Campus event seeks to educate voters about sample ballot


The “Know Your Ballot” forum, hosted by the Juvenile Justice Club along with the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Inc., invited local politicians and representatives of coalitions to inform students of amendment changes to the ballot.

Erika Christopher, a graduate public administration student from Jacksonville, is the treasurer for the Juvenile Justice Club and has been a member since 2009.

“It’s an opportunity to allow the candidates to come out or have someone represent them to state their platform and why we should give them our vote,” Christopher said. 

Jamilynn Pettiway, a fourth-year criminal justice student from Tampa, is the president of both organizations that hosted the event. The purpose was to get students involved and understand the information that’s on the ballot so voters know the issues and can go to the polls informed before or on Nov. 6.

Although the organizers of the event invited many politicians, Pettiway said she thought it helped students get informed about the issues on the ballot because students from different schools participated.

“I spoke to a biology major and nursing major,” Pettiway said, “so I am glad we were able to get a good proportion of students across the campus.” 

Inita Knox, a senior criminal justice student and member of the Juvenile Justice Club, was the mistress of ceremony. At the beginning of the event, she engaged the audience and asked, “How many of you are voting on Nov. 6?”

An applause echoed throughout the Perry Paige auditorium. 

“No, wait,” Knox said. “That’s not right. How many of you are going to vote early?” 

The applause echoed louder as people in the crowd showed their excitement to participate in early voting.

Anthony Ward, an international business relations student from St. Petersburg, said he recently registered to vote in Leon County and is well versed in the presidential election. However, Ward said he wanted to use the forum as an opportunity to learn more about what is actually on the ballot. He also said he wants to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge on the proposed amendment changes.

“I want to see how well they answer questions,” Ward said, “whether they answer it thoroughly or if they duck and dive from responding.”

Vincent Evans, a FAMU alumnus and volunteer for Al Lawson’s political campaign, was a speaker at the event. He explained to students the importance of voting.

“The truth is [voting in] every election is important,” Evans said, ” because in 2012, we still don’t have the same equal opportunities that other individuals have.”

Evans pointed out that students sometimes don’t grasp the impact the issues have on them.  He said as students, “You have a reciprocal responsibility to those before you to make sure you play an impactful role in taking a few steps towards voting early.” 

Early voting is available at five locations in Leon County from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.